Senator grills agencies on waivers

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, has asked five agencies to explain why they are allowing WorldCom Inc. to bid on new projects.

J. Adam Fenster

After media reports that WorldCom Inc. has received more than $100 million in federal orders since it was suspended almost three months ago, a senator is demanding that agencies explain why they granted waivers to the company.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, has asked five agencies to provide written justification for awarding business to the company or allowing it to bid on new opportunities.

Collins has been one of Congress' most vocal critics of the General Services Administration's handling of the investigation of WorldCom's activities.

The five agencies -- GSA, Armed Forces Retirement Home, Social Security Administration and the Justice and Defense departments -- all had until Nov. 7 to respond.

WorldCom was suspended, and its status referred to the GSA suspension and debarment official after growing criticism from Capitol Hill and the company's competitors that it was allowed to pursue business as usual, despite filing one of the largest bankruptcies in U.S. history and being under investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A decision on debarment has not yet been released. A judge Oct. 31 approved WorldCom's plan to emerge from bankruptcy.

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